DETROIT, March 24 (UPI) -- A federal judge Monday rejected a request by defense attorneys to delay the trial of four men accused of being part of a terrorist sleeper cell.
U.S. District Judge Gerald Rosen ordered jury selection, which began last week, to continue in the trial of Karim Koubriti, Ahmed Hannan, Farouk Ali-Haimoud and Abdel-Ilah Elmardoudi, accused of providing material support of terrorism and possession of false documents.
Koubriti, Hannan and Ali-Haimoud were arrested in an apartment raid shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington as federal investigators searched for another man. Elmardoudi, who was living in Minneapolis, was implicated by a suspect in Iowa.
"The defendants cannot receive a fair trial under the present circumstances," defense attorneys said in their motion.
"Jurors have expressed concern about their ability to be fair if the trial is being conducted while the United States is at war. Even the feelings of jurors who think they can be fair may change radically as the effects and horror of war continue to be revealed."
The motions were filed the day after the United States launched its initial strike on Iraq.
The attorneys also questioned Rosen's motives for proceeding with the trial, citing comments made in a Detroit Free Press column about a month after the Sept. 11 attacks in which he said it is time for this generation to follow the World War II generation and protect the United States against "the terror of fanaticism."
Rosen is seeking a pool of 45 potential jurors from whom 12 regular and four alternate jurors will be chosen. Potential jurors are being interviewed in private after filling out a lengthy questionnaire.